The Mystery of the Magi's Gold

by Maripat Donovan
Directed and Designed by Marc Silvia
Starring Colleen Moore
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre
25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-5454
December 1 through 27, 2009

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker


Sister proved so popular at the Golden Apple last summer that she's been invited back to whip us audiences into shape to appreciate Christmas. Especially the part in it played by Mary, a modern version of whose story Sister reads. Punctuating it with questions, she insists there's "a lot of material to cover" before Christmas partying. Somehow topics like how to pronounce Mary's dad's name (as discovered in "The Gladiator" film), what gifts nuns find appropriate to get (any Elizabeth Taylor perfume?), and who invented the first Christmas pageant (in 1223) get revealed. From the big pile of wrapped presents on Sister's desk---all variations of a certain kind of chocolate samplers, she confides---she yet rewards correct answers to her questions with novelties like seasonal ornament, holy card, special kazoo. Highlight of the party to come will be "our own living Nativity scene" played against a painted stable backdrop Sister loves to unfurl. It will feature a lit up plastic baby but all other principals and supporting cast will be chosen from our ranks.


After a 15 minute break, casting begins, with immediate---and hilarious---costuming  using sheets, berets, runner, tablecloths with burn holes, curtains. The sheep gets a shaggy rug, black gloves, big black hinged  paper-clip-tail. All are supplied by costumer Catherine Evans and inflicted by an antlered stage hand known mysteriously only as Eric.  When he finishes preparing the cast, the real mystery begins. Sister determines to find out who took the gift of gold the Magi brought to Jesus. Using the best techniques she's adopted from the "Forensic Files" after skillfully arranging all the "actors" in the crime scene, Sister applies her MOP method. That is, she ferrets out who had Motive, Opportunity, and Proximity to the child. And she proves to be more than Maxwell-Smart!


Colleen Moore is very effective at ad libs and carrying out director Marc Silvia's  blocking and dictate of keeping to a gently satirical tone.  A somewhat pathetic little choir, drawn from several local groups who have volunteered to sing carols, anticipates the action and inserts musical comments toward the end. But it's all in the spirit of a classroom comedic party. We must all become  to a degree both audience and actors to enjoy an hour and forty-five fun minutes.

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